Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Baruch Dayan HaEmet - Reflections on the Loss of a Friend and Colleague

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen

Three days ago, my friend and colleague, Rabbi Debbie Slavitt, passed from this world to the next. Zichrona l''vracha - May her memory be a blessing.

Debbie was smart, warm, compassionate, and insightful. She was a scholar of Greek and Latin, thoughtful, and helpful. She was a daughter, sister, wife, mother, student, teacher, mentor. She had a sense of humor and a kind heart.

But Debbie was more than my friend and my colleague. She was also a member of my beit din, the three-person rabbinical court who stood beside me at the moment when I made the transition from lay person to rabbi.

Pirkei Avot - The Ethics of the Fathers, begins with these words:
Moses received the Torah from Sinai and gave it over to Joshua. Joshua gave it over to the Elders, the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets gave it over to the Men of the Great Assembly.
These words are recited at the Academy for Jewish Religion during ordination, followed by the recognition that the Torah is now being passed to a new generation of rabbis; they were recited as I receive my smicha, ordination. The mantle of leadership continues to be passed down, from one generation to the next, throughout the millenia, to generations that now include women.

Debbie was one of the three who stood next in line before me in the long line of rabbis that extends back to the Men of the Great Assembly, and onward back to Moses, and ultimately to G!d. She stood between me and all of that history. 

Now Debbie has entered that history, taking her place in the powerful line from G!d to the teachers of the future, l'olam va'ed - for all time.

I have lost a friend and a colleague, and a precious one standing between myself and that amazing beginning beside a mountain in the desert, but I have not lost her spirit and I have not lost the connections. Those remain forever.

Thank you Debbie, for all that you have done for me, and for all that you have been, all that you have given, all that you have loved, all that you have shared.

You will be missed.

Rabbi Katy Allen is a board certified chaplain and serves as an Eco-Chaplain and the Facilitator of One Earth Collaborative, a program of Open Spirit. She is the founder and rabbi of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors all year long. She is the co-founder and President pro-tem of the Boston-based Jewish Climate Action Network, and a hospice chaplain. She received her ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in 2005. 

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